Tag Archive | transportation

Bucket Brigade Lines at Ganas

We are at Ganas on our way to the Tarrytwon craft fair.  There are a number of things i appreciate about Ganas, and one of them is the bucket brigade food unloading line.

Stars join Ganasians to move food from truck to kitchen

Stars join Ganasians to move food from truck to kitchen

On the surface this might appear quite mundane, just moving food from place to place.  But this is more like a complexly coordinated dance, where some participants need to opt out of heavier packages and people who are on top of it are always moving.

Stuff is picked up in a cargo van and unloaded by perhaps 20 people

Stuff is picked up in a cargo van and unloaded by perhaps 20 people

But using this approach no single person is burdened for very long, there are lots of short treks and you can always extend your rest by stepping out of the queue or by taking on another job in the unload.  And there is a beautiful self-correcting aspect to these lines where people move closer to each other or further apart depending on their enthusiasm and ability.

Willow and Hawina on Corson Ave on Staten Islamd

Willow and Hawina on Corson Ave on Staten Islamd

And as Confucius once said “Many hands make light work.”  We were done in less that 20 minutes, moving food to feed a couple hundred.  A handful of introductions and some sweet conversation later, we were back in the dining room finishing up other conversations.

This is an earlier blog post on this food line as a collective ritual.

Grounded Vehicles

The most popular post on this blog, by far is called The Dark Side of Burning Man.  My favorite comment on this post was “Yeah yeah yeah…burning man sucks, dont go, yadda yadda yadda….sell me yer ticket.”  What was lost in this exchange was that this post was the second of two and the first one was all about how important i think Burning Man is as a festival and what it has to teach and offer us as a greater society.    The notion that someone can really appreciate something and still be a vocal critic appears hard to grasp to many folks.

So it is with my home community of Twin Oaks.  I have written more positive propaganda about Twin Oaks than probably any other single person, except founder Kat Kinkade herself (who wrote two full books that some would consider propaganda).   I think the sharing systems at Twin Oaks desperately need to be modeled on a large scale or the world has no chance.

Bike Sharing system in Denver

Bike Sharing system in Denver

But just like with Burning Man, i am a loud critic of my community, which i want to change and improve.  Before you ask for my membership slot at Twin Oaks for being comparatively critical, know that i think this community has very high model value and that proof of my love and appreciation for it, is the amount of time i put into trying to make it be better, but reviewing and addressing the many shortcomings it suffers from.

Winter is a vanishing commodity in central Virginia, but we still get a few cold enough days and snowy enough days that all our vehicles at Twin Oaks get grounded occasionally.  This is one of those collective decisions that people outside of community have tremendous trouble rapping their brains around.  What this means is we have a fleet of 17 vehicles and when the vehicle crew decides the roads are too slippery, no one can drive any of them until they are ungrounded.

it rarely gets anything like this snowy in VA anymore

it rarely gets anything like this snowy in VA anymore

This system is good for keeping our insurance rates down, by reducing winter fender benders and more serious accidents.  It is also a way to normalize our range of driving skills.  Some members grew up in Wisconsin or Maine and they really know their winter driving stuff.  Others need to be trained in how to deal with poor weather, without the training it is not fair to say some experienced drivers can handle the snow and others can not.  If we ground the vehicles on the worst weather days, then we do decrease the number of cars which get damaged over the winter.

Acorn does it differently.  Several experienced members inform me that Acorn never collectively grounded their own vehicles.  Instead (like so many things at Acorn  it is a conversation).  Ultimately the responsibility is on you to take care of the car and know your own limits.  The community pays all your car insurance, and there is a culture of checking to see if a member is going to be okay driving in adverse conditions.  And because of the Acorn flexible system, i was able to pull something together at the last minute and make it home in time for Willows Heroes game.  Not surprisingly Acorners use a first come first serve car share system and this leaves some  slack in the system, which is highly desirable.

Tomorrow the Twin Oaks vehicles will be grounded for an incoming snow storm and i am supposed to drive Hawina to her doctors appointment.  I grow up in the Boston burbs and i have driven in some pretty terrible winter storms. i will take her in a borrowed personal car from an Associate member here at Acorn (which mean it can only be used in limited way).

Cross your fingers it does not snow more.

Doctors Orders

In my version of this story is that i was driving a friend who was on the edge of a manic break down to an all night place to get food.  It was about 4 AM and he had been up all night for at least the night before.   Without warning, while i am driving, he punches me in the face.  Fortunately, there was no traffic, because your reflex when someone punches you while driving is to slam on the brakes.

A couple years later my dentist tells me that my front tooth is dead and asks me about shocks to my face.  I get a bridge installed, but the teeth that it is attached to are hurt as well.  Last Friday while eating a carrot at Acorn i hear a very disturbing sound and feel sharp pain in my bridge.  My dentist confirmed that i had broken the root of the tooth the bridge was attached to and that i would need to get a temporary bridge to replace the one i had and that i would not be able to fly out to San Francisco when i had originally planned to.

I asked my dentist if he could write a letter for me to the airlines.  He reluctantly said yes.  I offered to draft the letter for him, which he found an exciting prospect.  I write lots of letters like this, and was up for the challenge of this one.  He gave me his email, and when i inspected the signed letter this morning, i noted they had not changed a word from my draft.  Quite satisfying.  The airline changed my ticket with a most minimal fee.

This is not the first time i have wanted a doctors note, though previously i did not have as good an excuse (from the airlines perspective) to change my flight.  In 1990, i was working for an ocean engineering firm in Hawaii.  I was supposed to go back from San Francisco, but i got a wonderful offer from David Solnit to travel to 45 cities and do support for a native peoples tours to stop nuclear testing.  The only thing which was stopping me from joining was this airplane ticket back to Hawaii.

So i went to a recently graduated doc who i knew and asked for help.  She said “well i could write you a letter saying you had an ear infection and thus could not fly.”  Ear infection, i thought, anyone can have an ear infection, i was hoping for something more exotic.  My doctor friend was amused and was curious what i had in mind.  “Can’t we say i was shot?”

So the letter was crafted, the airline was informed and when i turned it in to the woman at the airline counter, she was suitably aghast.  Wanting to know that i was okay, i assured her that my recover had been complete.